Free Service For Buyers
We do not charge any fees for buyers! In our case, we get paid from the transaction at time of closing, so there is no charge to you for our services. Considering all the advantages and valuable assistance that you will receive, it only makes good sense to have your own dedicated "Home Hunter" working for your benefit. However, there is never any pressure or obligation and we hope you take your time and choose the home that is right from you when you are comfortable. If you look at homes for a while and decide not to buy, that's fine. Maybe the timing wasn’t right. You will still tell your friends, family, and co-workers what an awesome experience you had working with us and we will help them buy or sell their home.
We want you to want to work with us, not have to! Therefore, we do not believe in contracts for buyer commitment! If for any reason you are not happy with our service we will make every effort to make it right but you can freely choose another company or agent to work with.
Instant Notification of New Listings
This is huge! Most homes that hit the market and are priced right generate multiple offers within the first week of being listed. The quicker you can be notified of the new properties the better chance you have of being the first person to make an offer. After a week or two you will be competing with other buyers thus driving the price up. Some of the best deals we have found for ourselves or our buyers occurred when we jumped on it the first day. In our area Zillow and Trulia do not have a direct feed from our MLS. It can sometimes take a week or more before it shows up on the internet. By setting up instant notifications you will learn about the properties immediately when they are listed this will put you at a tremendous advantage.
Sign Up To Receive New Listings!
Color Driving Directions
This may not seem like a big deal but when you are driving from one location to another it is extremely helpful to have color driving directions with the property detail. This helps you to easily find the home and have a brief synopsis of the details. We also send the directions to you in an electronic format where you can view from your mobile phone and easily access additional photos and details along the route.
Market Experts and Area Knowledge
We are working in this area every day! We have an in depth knowledge of the market and area because we are local. Often times when clients call us about a property we have already been in the property several times. With our involvement in the field we know the area like the back of our hand. We can offer valuable advice when it comes to specific areas and value based on our experience.
We are experts in navigating foreclosures! Whether it is a government owned home or a straight bank foreclosure we have been through this process numerous times. There is a certain way that you have to negotiate with the banks or government to ensure you get the best deal possible without jeopardizing losing the sale.
We realize this is a huge decision for you and you want updates as soon as they come in. We don’t operate on normal business hours and will pass information as soon as it comes through. We will let you know when there are changes to your purchase and work quickly to address any snags that may arise.
When you find the perfect home you need to decide what to offer. This can depend on many different factors. There are several things you should consider: 1) is the asking price in line with prices of similar homes in the area? 2) Is the home in good condition or will you have to spend a substantial amount of money making it the way you want it? You probably want to get a professional home inspection before you make your offer. We can help you arrange one. 3) How long has the home been on the market? If it's been for sale for a while, the seller may be more eager to accept a lower offer. 4) How much mortgage will be required? Make sure you really can afford whatever offer you make. 5) How much do you really want the home? The closer you are to the asking price, the more likely your offer will be accepted. In some cases, you may even want to offer more than the asking price, if you know you are competing with others for the house.
The key is that you need a good agent that understands these circumstances. We will take you through the process and explain everything you need to make an educated decision based on what the home is listed for, the market value, and the competition to ensure that you get the best deal without losing the property.
We are able to look at the bones of the home and find things that may not be readily observable to a buyer. We have extensive experience in construction and can offer valuable advice on our first visit to the home. We still recommend a home inspection but can normally give a good synopsis of the home upon our first visit as to potential problems with the home. It is important for us to make sure that you are making a sound investment and that can normally be determined on our first visit to the home.
We will negotiate vigorously on YOUR behalf to insure that you get the best deal possible, and we guarantee to protect YOUR best interests every step of the way. There is a delicate balance on what to offer and when. Through our experience in negotiation we have this skill down to a science.
We carry Errors and Omissions insurance so you can be sure that if there are any mistakes made they will be covered under our insurance. We have never had to make a claim but it is nice to know that it is there if needed.
Trusted Lender and Title company
We do not receive any kind of referral fee for sending business to lenders or title companies. We choose to conduct business with companies and individuals that go the extra mile and have the same level of integrity and work ethic that we do. We have worked with many professionals in the industry and have only a select few who we choose deal with on a regular basis. Surrounding our company with these professionals is instrumental to our success.
Electronic Signatures and Paperless Environment
We have invested heavily in electronic solutions. Everything is moving towards mobile and we strive to be on the cutting edge of technology. All of our contracts and addendums can easily be signed on your mobile phone, tablet, iPhone, desktop, etc. With so many cross town and even country moves we felt it was necessary to deploy these technologies to benefit our clientele. You have enough to worry about let alone finding a printer and a fax machine. Let us make this process smooth and effortless for you using the services we've invested in.
Things to watch out for when buying a home in Lakeland and surrounding areas. This information will also be helpful to a seller looking to list their home.
I debated about even putting this information out on the web but I feel that homebuyers and sellers have a right to know what they may encounter in the Real Estate Industry.
I have conducted business with the majority of the real estate agents in Lakeland and most are professional and have the client’s best interest in mind.
Below are some things we have encountered and feel were unfair.
Charging Fees for Buyer Services
Charging fees for buyer’s services is what drove me to start this list.
You shouldn't have to pay a fee to work with a buyer's agent.
This has been something new in the market to try and make additional money on a sale. I really only remember seeing it the last few years but I see it on the majority of closing statements now. The fees range from $295-$395 with various companies in the Lakeland and surrounding areas.
They are disguised under many different names: technology fee, buyer’s premium, document retention fee, among many others. They are indicated on your (HUD) closing statement among all the other charges.
Ask if you are paying a fee from the begining!
Short Sale Negotiation Fee and False Advertising
A short sale is when a homeowner indicates to the bank they can no longer pay their mortgage. The bank asks the borrower to send them proof of the hardship. If after the homeowner sends their bank statements, tax returns, paystubs, and writes a hardship letter the bank determines if there truly is a hardship they will allow the homeowner to market the home through a realtor for sale. The homeowner still owns the home and they sign any offer that comes in. The contract then goes to a 3rd party (the bank) for approval.
The realtor who takes the listing doesn't get much guidance on how much the bank will take for the property. The bank is reluctant to tell the realtor; sure, we will take $75,000 when the borrower owes $200,000. An offer needs to be submitted to the lender to begin their lengthy approval process. If there is a second mortgage involved it can also double the time. Often times the second mortgage holder will not agree with what the first mortgage holder has given them from the proceeds and demands money from the buyer to be paid directly to them in exchange for them to sign off on the paperwork.
Since the Realtor doesn't have an idea on what the bank will accept they may be tempted to put a lower price on the property. This will encourage activity and showings on the property and even multiple offers. Once a contract is accepted (the seller normally doesn't care how much the offer is they just want to get rid of the house) it goes to the bank (or banks) for 3rd party approval. If the homeowner continues to provide the bank with updated bank statements, paystubs, etc. it will remain in a short sale status and not go into foreclosure (which would make the offer null and void)
Several months later you get a response back from the bank and they counter higher than what the property is listed for. How can this happen? The buyer offered list price (maybe even higher). The buyer has wasted precious time in their home search waiting for this property that they thought was a slam dunk instead to find out they would have to raise their offer price. They decide to walk away from the sale. The agent goes back into MLS and puts "bank approved price of $xxx" The moral of the story is if it's a short sale and the price looks too good to be true, it probably is.
Short Sale Negotiation Fee
Often times there is a "negotiation fee" the listing agent charges to the buyer to purchase a property. This can vary and is for the most part made up. It's the job of the realtor to negotiate the short sale not a third party company. Some agents have gotten smart about this and formed their own company to negotiate the short sale. I come across many homes that have a $2,550 minimum fee for negotiating the sale. The agent owns the company that negotiates the sale. There was also a $395 Buyer's premium to top it off! These fees are often non-refundable if you decide not to move forward with the sale.
If a property is listed as a "bank approved price short sale" or has already gone through foreclosure it is a much better option. Also, there is no reason to pay a Short Sale Negotiation fee!
Save yourself the money and aggravation and find another home.
Auction properties have been gaining momentum the last several years. I have witnessed various ways that these sales have been misrepresented or not properly disclosed.
Extremely Low List Price
I have seen properties listed in MLS and various other websites for an extremely low price. I get a call from a buyer that has just drove by the property and is excited to make a full price offer. I pull up the property information and listed in an area not visible to the public it states "list price is the starting bid of the property". We feel this information needs to be properly disclosed before the buyer takes action and wastes their valuable time.
Often times there are significant fees added to auction properties. Once you meet the reserve price, which frequently is set very close to market value, you have to pay junk fees added to the property. The fees vary but it's not uncommon to see an additional $299 Technology fee and 4.5% Buyer's premium ( on a $200,000 house that's $9,299!) I have seen them as high as 10%!
Be wary of Auction Properties!
Steering Buyers to Different Properties Based on Commission
I had taken a listing of a mother that was diagnosed with a rare genetic heart condition. She had to have a pacemaker put in along with her 10 year old child. Her other children were going to be very likely to have a pacemaker at a later date. It was one of the kindest families I had ever met. During this same time period her husband had to relocate with his job prompting a quick sale of their home. I helped the family sell their home and offered to do it for a lower commission given their circumstance. I wanted to do the family a favor and had no idea I was going to be steering potential buyers away from the property. I had numerous agents tell me they were going to push their buyers to other homes listed at a higher commission despite the buyers really liking the home I had listed. I explained the situation to each agent who brought it up and the only priority was what they were going to get paid instead of helping this poor family out. I was told that other agents in their office will filter the results so the buyers never see homes below a certain commission. I asked the other agents the same question and they admit many agents in their office did the same thing. This was still a great commission for any buyer's agent and not really far from what they would have made from a home they were attempting to push their buyer to purchase.
I had listed a few other homes this way (friends of the same family) with the same outcome and feedback.
This has a Lesson for Both Buyers and Sellers
If you are a seller and list your home with a lower commission you will risk buyer's being pushed away from your home or never even being able to see it if they are filtered out in MLS by the agent.
If you are a buyer I'm not sure what stories you will hear from your real estate agent to push you away from the property you love. You may also never see those listings if your real estate agent chooses to omit them from your search results.
Listing Agent Taking more Commission than being Offered to Buyer's Agent
This is something I am seeing in the field much more often. In a traditional sale the commission is split 50/50. So, if the seller agrees to pay a 6% commission the listing agent would take 3% and the buyer's agent would take 3%. I have recently discovered listing agents taking 3.5% and offer the 2.5% to the buyer's agent. While working with real estate transactions on both the buyer and seller sides I don't agree with this practice. You will not gain anything additional from the listing agent with the commission allocated more to their favor.
If you notice the commission slighted to the listing agent you could ask them to split the fee 50/50 or find another real estate agent that will. As I explained above, the higher commission that is offered to the buyer's agent will ultimately end up driving more buyers to your home.
A good agent will split the commission fairly at 50/50.
Thank you for taking the time to read and I hope you found this information valuable!
I would like to again emphasize that most agents are honest, hardworking people that have their client's best interest in mind. They are equally upset that these practices occur in our industry they just may not have the means to inform the public.